PHILS OUST KLENTAK AFTER 5 FAILED YEARS AS GENERAL MANAGER!

By Sam Bush

The Phillies may call it a demotion.

But what they really did today was fire failed general manager Matt Klentak.

He “stepped down as the team’s general manager,” was the official statement.

Assistant GM Ned Rice will take over as interim GM until a permanent successor is hired, and Klentak will be reassigned somewhere else in the organization.

The Phillies finished 28-32 this year, losing their final three games and seven out of their last 10 in manager Joe Girardi’s first campaign.

“I think we could have just as easily won 38 games, 35 games,” Girardi said last Sunday. “I really do.”

Sunk all season by a miserable bullpen, the Phillies could never build up enough momentum to firmly entrench themselves on the right side of the playoff line for Girardi, who took over after the team went 81-81 in 2019 with Gabe Kapler at the helm.

“We had a shot,” Girardi said. “We didn’t take advantage of it. It’s extremely disappointing, coming up one game short. There were a lot of chances to win that one game, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Klentak added to the team’s talent this offseason, and it appeared back in spring training as if Girardi had the personnel to compete. Stars such as Harper, signed by Klentak in March 2019, and J.T. Realmuto were joined on the 2020 roster by high-end starter Zack Wheeler, signed away from the rival Mets, and shortstop Didi Gregorius, who left the Yankees.

“I have loved working with Matt Klentak,” Girardi said. “I think we have an outstanding relationship. We talk about situations all the time. I have loved working with him.”

Klentak, 40, a former assistant general manager with the Los Angeles Angels, was hired by the Phillies in 2015. Before taking the job in Philadelphia, he interviewed for the vacant general manager position with the Angels. Los Angeles ended up hiring Billy Eppler for that job. He, too, was let go — last Sunday, after the Angels finished out of the American League postseason with a 26-34 mark.

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